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National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 220, October 2018

70-anniversary Commemorative Exhibition: A Treasure Box of Books ― The 70-year History of the National Diet Library and Its Collections

The National Diet Library (NDL) was founded 70 years ago on June 5, 1948, using the Kacho no Ma in the Akasaka Detached Palace (now the State Guest House) as a reading room. The number of books in the collection of the NDL at that time was approximately 330 thousand items (as of March 1949, according to the National Diet Library Annual Report FY1948). The number of books housed by the former Imperial Library, whose collection was transferred to the NDL the next year, was only about one million. This number was from 70 years of accumulations by the precursors of the Imperial Library, such as the Tokyo Library.

The number of books housed by the NDL exceeded 10 million items in 2012, and since then has increased by over one million more items. The total number including other items such as periodicals, newspapers and microforms is 43 million items.

This means that the NDL has collected 10 million books in the 70 years from its opening. In other words, the NDL collected ten times more books than were collected in the previous 70 years.


<<The leaflet of the exhibition>>

The exhibition is held in Tokyo and Kyoto according to the schedule below.

  • Tokyo Main Library of the NDL (Access)
    Date: Thursday, October 18 to Saturday, November 24, 2018
  • Kansai-kan of the NDL (Access)
    Date: Friday, November 30 to Saturday, December 22, 2018

In this exhibition we will introduce various materials of the NDL, like a stream of unexpected and wonderful treasures coming out when you open a treasure box. This exhibition consists of two parts, displaying 180 materials in all (120 materials at a time because some items will be changed). Materials related to the history of the NDL are displayed in Part 1, and various materials from special viewpoints are displayed in Part 2.

We will introduce some of the exhibited materials which are available online in this and the next issue. This article presents materials from Part 2 of the exhibition, "Varied Collection."

You can check the list of exhibited materials (in Japanese) on the NDL website.

Beautiful books and rare books

Kanagaki, Robun. Hanagoromo kitsune no soshi. First chapter in Vol. 3, No. 12, illustrated by Ichimosai Yoshitora, published by Kinkyodo Yamada-ya Shojiro, 1862, NDL Call No. W114-13.
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections.

This is a gokan book, an illustrated book for the general public in the Edo period, describing romantic troubles between an anthropomorphized fox and raccoon dog. Uniquely, there are some fold-up pictures in which characters change from human to fox or raccoon dog when folding back half of the cover.

Harimazejo. NDL Call no. 本別9-24.
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections.

Have you ever made a scrapbook of your admission tickets to exhibitions or labels from food and drink containers? Naturally, people have been doing such things since the days of yesteryear. This item includes a train ticket, a label from toothpaste, a leaflet from a chicken egg vendor, and candy wrappers from a scrapbook made by Negishi Takeka, who was a member of House of Peers.

Books you might have seen somewhere

Grimm, Wilhelm. Ookami. translated by Ueda Kazutoshi, published by Yoshida Hanshichi, 1889, NDL Call No. 特67-390.
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections.

Though the wolf and the goat kids are in a Japanese-style house and wearing kimono, this picture is "The wolf and the seven kids (original title: Der Wolf und die sieben jungen Geisslein)." In the Meiji period and Taisho period, adaptations such as changing the character’s name to Japanese style were carried out very often when translating Western stories.

Lewis, Carroll. Aichan no yume monogatari. translated by Maruyama Eikan, published by Naigai Shuppan Kyokai, 1910, NDL Call No. 32-441.
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections.

This is the first translation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in which the whole story of the original was translated faithfully. Alice appears by the name of Ai-chan, a Japanese name. The illustrations are John Tenniel’s from the original.

Ichiyosai, Kuniteru. "Joshu tomioka seishijo." Nishikie. published in 1872, NDL Call No. 本別9-28.
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections.

The Tomioka Silk Mill (Tomioka seishijo), which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a cultural heritage site since 2014, is a government-operated model factory built in 1872 as part of the Meiji government policy of encouraging modern industry. They invited engineers from France and promoted the modernization of silk production. This is the original exterior of the Tomioka Silk Mill, with some buildings like the east and west cocoon storages now designated as National Treasures.

Ichiyosai Kuniteru, also known as Utagawa Kuniteru the Second, is one of the most well-known painters of kaikae (paintings which depicted elements representative of the Meiji period), and was active from the end of the Edo period into the Meiji period.

Please also enjoy the digital exhibition "Modern Japan and France - adoration, encounter and interaction," which features materials on the long history of relations between France and Japan from the mid-19th century, on the NDL website.

Books depicting society of the day

Photographs taken by Robert V. Mosier during 1946 and 1947.
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections.
Left: Street stalls beneath films and theater billboards in Nagoya
Right: General Staff Office swept by fire (now Parliamentary Museum)

These photos were taken by Robert V. Mosier, who was assigned to General Headquarters from April 1946 to January 1947. The collection consists of 304 color photos of streetscapes and buildings taken throughout Japan. These photos were donated to the NDL by the Mosier family in 2008 and later digitized and made available online.

Revised script of episode 111 of Taiyō ni Hoero! (Bark at the Sun), written by Ogawa Ei, originally broadcast on August 30, 1974. NDL Call No. Y851-N01-16283.

The NDL holds TV and radio scripts. (For the details, please see the article in the 198th issue of the NDL Newsletter.)

Taiyō ni Hoero! (Bark at the Sun) was a hugely popular television detective series, which ran from 1972 to 1986. Ogawa Ei and other well-known screenwriters who actively wrote for action films during the 1960s contributed to the program's success. This item is the script to episode 111, entitled "G-pan and Shinko, Their Love and Death," which includes a famous scene in which a detective nicknamed G-pan (Blue jeans) is killed in the line of duty. G-pan was played by Matsuda Yusaku, who is also in the American action thriller film Black Rain directed by Ridley Scott. The NDL also owns a copy of this script with handwritten annotations and revisions, and comparing these two versions provides a glimpse into how these episodes were produced. Both of these materials have been digitized and are provided via the NDL Digital Collections (restricted access materials: the copy without handwritten annotations is available only at the NDL and partner libraries in Japan; the other copy with handwritten annotations is available only at the NDL).

Ai no fantaji (original title: "Reality"). Released by Toshiba in 1982. NDL Call No. YMA-267-19-2.

This exhibition also features a wide variety of media from the NDL's extensive collection of audiovisual materials, including uniquely designed phonograph records. It also features Sonosheet flexi discs made from thin, flexible vinyl, and MiniDiscs, among other formats which have fallen out of use today.

This is a heart-shaped phonograph record of a song from the soundtrack of the French film La Boum. Directed by Claude Pinoteau, La Boum was released in France in 1980 and in Japan in 1982, to great popularity worldwide. It is also notable as Sophie Marceau’s film debut. Although carbon black is usually added to phonograph records for coloring, other pigments can be used to produce red or blue vinyl.


These and other items from the NDL's collection can be viewed while the exhibition is held at the Tokyo Main Library and later at the Kansai-kan. We look forward to seeing you there.


(Translated by Rie Watanabe and Yuko Kumakura)

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